American Boondoggle: Fixing the 2012 Farm Bill

American farmers are supposed to make a living raising and marketing crops and livestock, and many full-time farmers are very good at doing just that. They are also effective at obtaining income through the generosity of their elected representatives at the expense of taxpayers. The main farm subsidy programs were introduced in the 1930s when many dirt-poor Dust Bowl farmers were in dire straits, as, of course, were many Depression-decimated families in the cities. Since the end of World War II, however, farmers and their families have substantially improved their absolute and relative economic stations. The average farm family currently earns substantially more income than the average nonfarm family and is much wealthier. Moreover, debt-to-asset ratios are far lower among family farm businesses than family-owned mainstreet businesses-or, for that matter, most large corporations-and have been much lower for most of the last thirty years.

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About the Author

 

Daniel A.
Sumner

 

Vincent H.
Smith
  • Vincent H. Smith is Professor of Economics in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University and co-director of MSU’s Agricultural Marketing Policy Center. He received his Ph.D. from North Carolina State University in 1987 and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Manchester in 1970 and 1971. Dr. Smith’s current research program examines agricultural trade and domestic policy issues, with a particular focus on agricultural insurance, agricultural science policy, domestic and world commodity markets, risk management, and agricultural trade policy. He has authored nine books and monographs and published over 100 articles on agricultural and other policy and economic issues. His work has been recognized nationally through multiple national awards for outstanding research programs. In 2008, he became a Distinguished Scholar of the Western Agricultural Economics Association. Currently he is a Visiting AEI Scholar and co-director of AEI’s agricultural policy initiative. Dr. Smith is married and he and his wife, Laura, have two children, Karen and Meredith.
  • Email: uaevs@montana.edu
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    Name: Neil McCray
    Phone: 2028625826
    Email: neil.mccray@aei.org

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